Junk Jobs

The New School’s Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis has produced a working paper on accounting for job quality in assessments of labor market performance.

Here are some findings:

(1) The percentage of low wage workers in the US economy has remained the same since 1979; 30% of US workers earn low wages (operationalized as less than two-thirds of the median wage for full-time workers).
For comparison, the OECD measures Sweden with 6% low wage workers in its labor force (2005).

(2) About 35% of workers in the U.S. were underemployed in both 1979 and 2006.

(3) Only 40% of the working age population in the US is adequately employed. Is this the neoclassical econ goal?

The American Model is low wages and high inequality.

Here is the citation:

Howell, David R. and Mamadou Diallo. 2007. “Charting U.S. Economic Performance with Alternative Labor Market Indicators: The Importance of Accounting for Job Quality.” SCEPA Working Paper 2007-6. June 29.

Here is the link:


This data jibes with Esping-Anderson’s comparison of Anglosphere v. Scandinavian model labor markets.


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